New Publication by Carsten L. Wilke: The Marrakesh Dialogues: A Gospel Critique and Jewish Apology from the Spanish Renaissance
Carsten L. Wilke: The Marrakesh Dialogues: A Gospel Critique and Jewish Apology from the Spanish Renaissance
(Leiden: Brill, 2014)
In sixteenth-century Marrakesh, a young Flemish merchant converts to Judaism and takes his Catholic brother on a subversive reading of the Gospels and an exploration of the Jewish faith. Their antagonistic, yet frank and fraternal debate meanders between the themes of clerical oppression, religious imposture, education, true piety, male happiness, social honor, and the course of world history towards its predicted apocalyptic end. Composed in Spanish by an anonym, this candid dialogue between two men and one woman has until now escaped scholarly attention in spite of its success in anti-Christian clandestine literature until the Enlightenment. Based on all nine available manuscripts, this critical edition rediscovers a pioneering work of Jewish self-expression in European languages. The introductory study identifies the author, Estêvão Dias, locates him in insurgent Antwerp in 1583, at the beginning of the Western Sephardi diaspora, and describes his hybrid culture shaped by the Iberian Renaissance, Portuguese crypto-Judaism, Mediterranean Jewish learning, Protestant piety, and European diplomacy in Africa. One of the earliest Jewish religious authors who wrote in a standard European language, Dias reinterprets Judaism by presenting it not as a tradition, but as a doctrine of salvation directed to all humanity. To an audience of former Iberian Judeoconverts, he offers a praise of the rebellious renegade and an original Jewish version of Reformation-age "conversion theology".